Could Apple(s AAPL) and Google(s GOOG) be ready to put their mobile patent unpleasantness behind them? A Reuters report on Thursday says that the two companies are in discussions about the various mobile patent issues that keep the two competitors at odds with each other. Those talks have extended as high up as their respective CEOs, with Google’s Larry Page and Apple’s Tim Cook talking via phone. There doesn’t appear to be any deals reached quite yet, but the talks are at least promising.
Lower-level representatives of the company have apparently been in “ongoing” talks, but Page and Cook spoke last week via telephone and plan to talk again “in the coming weeks.”
But talking isn’t action. It’s great that they have each other’s phone numbers. But what could these talks actually mean for the bad blood between the companies, the claims of “theft” and the recent lawsuit filed by Google-owned Motorola against Apple? Here’s what Reuters’ source is saying:
One possible scenario under consideration could be a truce involving disputes over basic features and functions in Google’s Android mobile software, one source said. But it’s unclear whether Page and Cook are discussing a broad settlement of the various disputes between the two companies – most of which involve the burgeoning mobile computing area – or are focused on a more limited set of issues.
The impetus for these talks was reportedly Apple’s landmark victory in its Samsung patent case reached by a California jury last Friday. And it’s obvious why: Apple hasn’t sued Google directly for infringing on iOS design and utility patents with Android, but a jury found very easily that Google’s most important and most successful Android customer, Samsung, did.
Still, the possible effects of the verdict reach much further than Samsung. On Monday morning a lot of post-trial analysis focused on what Apple’s victory over Samsung meant for Google, and for good reason: Google’s Android was a huge factor in allowing smartphone and mobile device makers to easily imitate the iPhone, and eventually the iPad, with inexpensive, ready-made mobile software.
Apple has responded to the invention and subsequent proliferation of Android not just by vowing to destroy Android, but by taking steps to avoid reliance on any Google products or software in iOS. In addition to building its own Maps app in place of default Google Maps, Apple is also planning to drop the YouTube app from iOS. It’ll be interesting to see if any resolution between the two companies reverses any of Apple’s decisions on these fronts.